Delta has a specific boarding procedure for each flight to ensure it departs on time. You’ll need to arrive at the gate promptly, just like other airlines. This will ensure that you don’t miss any of your turns in the queue. It can be confusing with 10 boarding zones (or Delta as they call them) […]

Delta has a specific boarding procedure for each flight to ensure it departs on time. You’ll need to arrive at the gate promptly, just like other airlines. This will ensure that you don’t miss any of your turns in the queue.

It can be confusing with 10 boarding zones (or Delta as they call them) especially if you arrive at your gate after any announcements about boarding have been made. Delta screens are used in many airports to show which group is boarding at a particular time.

There are many ways to get up the boarding list if you’re in the middle of the queue. This is a guide to the Delta boarding process and how you can move up the pecking order on your next flight.

The 10 Delta Air Lines Boarding Zones

Although there are nine designated boarding areas for Delta, there is a protocol that allows passengers to preboard the plane. There are actually 10 groups.

First, the chance for active-duty U.S military personnel with identification who need additional time to board the plane.

The remaining nine groups will board in a specific order. Their names might not be clear as they don’t follow the Group 1-9 boarding zones system. Here are some things to expect at the gate. There will be many passengers trying to hear announcements and pushing forward ahead of their turn. C’est la vie!

Boarding zone

SkyMiles Medallion Members

Other passengers from partner airlines and members of the elite status

Delta One or First class

  • First class passengers.

  • Delta One passengers (two class aircraft).

Delta Diamond Medallion

  • Diamond Medallion members.

Delta Premium Select

  • Delta Premium Select passengers (on eligible aircraft).

  • Travelers with strollers and car seats in their cars.

Delta Comfort+

  • Delta Comfort+ passengers.

SkyPriority (preferred board)

  • Platinum Medallion Members.

  • Gold Medallion members.

  • Flying Blue Platinum members and Gold members

  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members.

  • LATAM Pass Black Signature and Platinum Elite members.

  • SkyTeam Elite Plus members.

  • Gold and Platinum Elite members of WestJet Rewards Platinum.

Main Cabin 1

  • Silver Medallion Members.

  • Delta Corporate travelers.

  • Delta SkyMiles Gold and Platinum cardmembers.

  • Flying Blue Silver members.

  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members.

  • SkyTeam Elite members.

  • SkyMiles Select members.

  • LATAM Pass Gold+ Elite members.

  • WestJet Rewards Silver Elite members.

Main Cabin 2

  • Main Cabin Customers.

Main Cabin 3

  • Main Cabin customers booked for T, X, and V fare classes.

Basic Economy

  • Basic Economy Passenger (E).

Priority boarding areas


SkyPriority is a premium brand access to priority check-in for SkyTeam airlines. This is the 6th of 10 priority boarding zones. Most elite status flyers below Diamond Medallion will need to wait a while before they get their turn. This applies to Platinum and Gold Medallion members, as well as elite members of partner airlines. It may be surprising to you that Delta has such a long wait to board if you are not familiar with its boarding zones.

Main Cabin 1

The entry-level Silver Medallion Silver Medallion members of Delta’s elite status have to wait a little longer to board. This group includes passengers with Delta SkyMiles credit cards and lower-level elite status members from partner airlines.

How is Delta assigned boarding zones?

Delta will assign passengers to the highest-eligible zone if they have an elite credit card with Delta and are flying in a premium cabin. If a Diamond Medallion purchases a basic economy ticket, they will still be able to board in the priority zone for Diamond Medallion members. This gives you an extra incentive to attain top Medallion status.

A Delta co-branded American Express credit holder who purchases basic economy would be another example. Passenger can skip the line and board last with basic economy passengers. They can then join the Main Cabin 1 zone to get faster access to the plane. A Delta credit card approval could allow you to board faster if you buy basic economy.

How do I get priority boarding with Delta

Priority boarding is a great option. This allows you to board before the main passengers and gives you more overhead space so that you can settle down a lot faster. These are some of the ways that Delta can speed up boarding.

Fly in a Premium Cabin

You’ll board first if you book one Delta’s most popular flight products, such as Delta One or first-class. Delta’s premium cabin flyers board first, regardless of destination. Diamond Medallion members can board in the same zone, but they cannot board with those who travel in the premium cabin.

Premium economy Delta Premium Select passengers get priority boarding, after Delta One, Diamond Medallion and first class passengers. Premium Select is also available on selected international flights. Comfort Plus passengers board after Premium Select flyers. Comfort Plus, which is often less expensive than first class (Delta One and Premium Select), allows you to board priority boarding.

>> Learn more: Delta Comfort Plus vs. Premium Select

SkyMiles elite status or SkyTeam/partner airline elite Status

SkyMiles members who have a Platinum Medallion status or lower, as well as SkyTeam Elite Plus or SkyTeam Elite status, can board the plane next. Although this may not be the most important boarding zone in Delta, it is often before all other passengers in the main cabin. Even if you fly in the main cabin or with an elite status, you can board with your relevant, earlier boarding zone.

SkyPriority boarding is available to Platinum and Gold Medallion members, as well as SkyTeam Elite Plus flyers. SkyTeam Elite and Silver Medallion members board in the Main Cabin 1.

Board for military

Active military personnel with a valid military ID may board the aircraft before anyone else, even those in the premium cabin.

Have a Delta cobranded credit card

If you have a Delta SkyMiles co-branded credit card, you will automatically be assigned to the Main Cabin 1 area (unless you are already in the elite or premium cabin). There should be ample overhead bin space as you’ll likely board before the majority of the main cabin. These cards can offer more benefits than the annual fee.

Become an Delta Corporate Traveler

Delta offers additional benefits to travelers whose companies have a corporate agreement. These include Main Cabin 1 Boarding. This means that you will board first, unless you are a higher Medallion member or traveling in the premium cabin. If you have higher Medallion status or are traveling in the premium cabin, you will board with those passengers. You must reserve and pay for the ticket through the corporate travel portal.

Get the Ascend package

If you don’t meet the criteria for priority boarding, you can pay for it. Delta offers an extra trip called the Ascend package, which can be added to a ticket for an additional cost. This includes boarding in the Main Cabin 1 area. It also includes Wi-Fi in flight

Understanding Delta’s boarding procedure for flights

There is a rhyme to the Delta boarding system, but travelers need to understand their place in the hierarchy. SkyTeam prioritizes SkyTeam members who travel in premium cabins above all other elite status members. However, if you have any elite status or a Delta cobranded credit card, you will be able to board faster than passengers in the main cabin. If you are a frequent Delta flyer but have not yet achieved elite status, you might consider applying for a credit card that will get you closer to the front.

(Top Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines).

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